by Louise Lancashire
, posted on 25 Nov '20

November Postgraduate News Wrap-up

The past month has felt like a mixed bag. Many of us have been through a second lockdown, but a hat-trick of positive results from major vaccine trials are giving us all hope of seeing more of the people we love and doing more of the things we enjoy.

It’s a similar story for postgraduate news. With some concerns around access and student experience offset by some success stories and new funding opportunities for international applicants.

Advance HE’s Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES), helpfully summarised here by Times Higher Education, indicates that many current PGT students were unhappy with the shift to online teaching at the start of the first lockdown.

Students seem to have felt that the impact of the lockdown was uneven and, for many of them, this experience followed hot on the heels of disruption due to staff strike action on pay and pensions. One thing the PTES highlights is that Masters students’ experience may have been particularly impacted due to most courses being only one year long.

Our own surveys suggest that interest in PGT study remains robust, but the PTES results are an important reminder that universities have a smaller window to ‘satisfy’ Masters students. It will be increasingly important to set fair expectations for this audience.

On a more positive note, the UK will offer much more support for international Masters students next year, with the British Council’s Study UK campaign extending it’s GREAT Scholarships to more countries.

Yours may well be one of the many universities with this funding available, so make sure your target audiences are aware of it. We've updated our student-facing GREAT Scholarships Guide on to reflect the changes.

Remember too that next year sees international Masters graduates benefitting from the UK’s new Graduate Route visa for the first time. A double positive for international recruitment.

A recent announcement from UKRI confirms that not all PGR students will be given additional time or funding to finish their research. As unfortunate as this news is, one ‘silver lining’ is that attention is being paid to the plight of PhD students who may now struggle to complete their projects – as this Guardian piece demonstrates.

More in-depth analysis has also been undertaken by Wonkhe, acknowledging that UKRI is in a fairly difficult position itself, despite the fact that more needs to be done and perhaps should have been done sooner.

We know that the situation is difficult for universities too and that you’ll be doing your best to support PGR students during this difficult time.

Data obtained by BBC Newsnight shows higher PhD acceptance rates for white applicants compared to black, Asian and ethnic minority candidates. This article highlights how this is intertwined with existing issues at undergraduate level, but also highlights a lack of awareness of funding opportunities and requirements – something universities can perhaps work on improving with their own information, advice and guidance.

There is some good work already been done to address this across the sector. We recently shared how the University of Oxford are offering scholarships to support under-represented groups. Meanwhile, the Office for Students and Research England have launched a new funding competition to address the under-representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic students on PhD programmes and other PGR study options. And we're sure we'll see more responses from universities to support these students.

We wanted to finish on a positive note and what better way than to celebrate postgraduate students winning the James Dyson Award prizes.

The Guardian has put together a handy summary of the winners and their achievements, including a Mapúa University student who makes renewable energy from rotting veg and a University of California student who invented a simple home-based solution to mammogram screening. The runners up include a group of students from Imperial College London, the Royal College of Art and the University of Waterloo.

Well done and congratulations to all!

If you’d like to discuss any of the above opportunities and how we can support you with your postgraduate campaigns, please contact your Account Manager, email [email protected] or call +44 (0)114 268 4940

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